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New Zealand's key men in the march to No.1

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New Zealand have climbed to the top of the men's ODI rankings. Following the latest annual rankings update, we look at their key performers from the past three years.

Video cwc19 03 May 21
The stars who powered New Zealand to ODI No.1

Kane Williamson
1017 runs at 50.85. Two centuries. High score of 148.

The Kiwi skipper has been in fine fettle the past three years, passing 50 in eight of his 23 innings.

Williamson’s best performances came during the ICC Cricket World Cup, where he was pivotal in their charge to the final and finished as the tournament’s fourth-highest run-scorer (578 at 82.57).

In the group stage, he notched back-to-back centuries against South Africa and the West Indies and was crowned Player of the Match on both occasions. However, his most important innings came in the semi-final against India. In a low scoring affair, Williamson’s 67 proved crucial in an 18-run win.

Williamson currently sits 12th on the ICC ODI batting rankings.

Video cwc19 22 Jun 19
CWC19: WI v NZ - Williamson's sublime 148

Ross Taylor
1314 runs at 62.57. Two centuries. High score of 137.

The veteran has gone from strength to strength since 2018 and is New Zealand’s highest run-scorer in ODIs over the past three years. Taylor has been a model of consistency in this period, as his 12 50+ scores across 27 innings attest to.

Of those 12 50+ scores, two were turned into centuries. The first was a well-composed 137 off 131 that helped New Zealand to a 115-run win over Sri Lanka. The second was a more explosive 109 off 84 balls that powered a successful chase of 348 against India. He went on to average 194 in the series against India with a strike rate of 110.22.

Like Williamson, he was key in New Zealand’s march to the World Cup final, scoring three fifties in nine innings, including the top score (74) in their semi-final clash against India.

Taylor currently sits fourth on the ICC ODI batting rankings and has been inside the top 10 for the entirety of the past three years, spending most of that time in the top three.

Video cwc19 10 Jul 19
CWC19 SF: IND v NZ – Highlights of Ross Taylor's 90-ball 74

Trent Boult
47 wickets at 26.70. Economy of 4.78. One five-wicket haul. Best figures of 5/45.

For the past three years, most teams that have taken on New Zealand have been consigned to the fact they will need to wait out Boult’s 10 overs. 

That miserly economy combined with the frequency with which he has taken wickets in this period (strike rate of 33.5) has lifted him to the top of the ODI bowling rankings. Remarkably, since February 2019, he has been a lock in the top three on the rankings.

The swing king was at his best in an ODI against India in early 2019, taking 5/21 to help bowl the tourists out for 92. In a series New Zealand would actually lose 4-1, he took 12 wickets at an average of 15, leaking less than four-an-over against one of the game’s most daunting batting orders.

Alongside his one five-for, he took a further three four-wicket hauls across 27 innings and claimed a hat-trick against Australia at the World Cup.  

Video cwc19 29 Jun 19
CWC19: NZ v AUS - Boult completes hat-trick with LBW

Lockie Ferguson
48 wickets at 21.47. Economy of 5.20

Despite a lengthy stint on the sidelines, Ferguson is New Zealand’s top ODI wicket-taker over the past three years.

The express quick was New Zealand's stand-out performer at the last World Cup.

Ferguson was the tournament’s second-highest wicket-taker, finishing with 21 at 19.47 while leaking just 4.88 an over. He excelled in the final, taking 3/50, including the key scalps of Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes in the 45th and 47th over to leave Ben Stokes batting with the tail.

A run of injuries and the advent of the pandemic has limited him to one ODI since then but after a successful return to T20I action earlier this year, you can expect Ferguson to be a central figure in the attack going forward.

Video cwc19 05 Jun 19
CWC19: Lockie Ferguson feature

Jimmy Neesham
34 wickets at 24.88. Economy of 5.48. Two five-wicket hauls. Best figures of 5/27.
509 runs at 31.81. Strike rate of 102.20 High score of 97*

Neesham has made himself indispensable to the New Zealand line-up since returning to the national fold in January 2019.

Despite not playing in 2018, he is the team’s third-highest ODI wicket-taker in the past three years, with two five-wicket hauls to his name in that time. He has also emerged as a seriously reliable performer at the death too.

With the bat, Neesham has proved an asset in New Zealand’s lower middle order, showing the adaptability required in the position. He most notably scored an unbeaten 97 on a tricky surface against Pakistan at the World Cup, lifting the Black Caps to a competitive total after they were reduced to 83/5.

When called for, he has provided plenty of thrust to the batting order, and was particularly destructive in the early months of 2019, finishing series against Sri Lanka (219.64), India (137.50) and Bangladesh (154.16) with impressive strike rates.

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